Effect of Primary Health Care team actions to protect mental health after natural disasters


Cad. saúde colet.




Abstract Background There is a high prevalence of emotional disturbances in the population exposed to disasters, and primary health care centers (PHC) could contribute to their prevention. Objective To analyze post-catastrophe associations between PHC variables and population mental health variables. Method Study conducted in Chile one year after an 8.8° Richter earthquake. We applied a questionnaire on the intensity of mental health actions in 16 PHC centers, and scales GHQ-12 and SF-36 for psychological distress and quality of life, in a sample based on households and consultants of the PHCs. We used multiple linear regression analysis for the two samples and the two instruments. Results The variables on PHC intensity of actions showed no association with the GHQ-12 or SF-36 scores in both samples. The main variables significantly associated with higher scores on GHQ-12 and lower scores on SF-36 were female gender, fewer years of schooling, negative economic situation, less social support and physical damages caused by the earthquake. Conclusion The PHC teams could achieve greater preventive post-disaster outcome working with other sectors, including mental health dimensions, while addressing the critical disaster social issues, and focusing direct preventive work on those psychologically vulnerable.


mental health primary health care disasters

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